Ancient Monuments

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Rhudil Mill, cairn 410m ENE of

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Argyll, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.1018 / 56°6'6"N

Longitude: -5.4651 / 5°27'54"W

OS Eastings: 184600

OS Northings: 695302

OS Grid: NR846953

Mapcode National: GBR DDWL.9H0

Mapcode Global: WH0HY.0WVN

Entry Name: Rhudil Mill, cairn 410m ENE of

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1933

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM227

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)

Location: Glassary

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Mid Argyll

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument is a cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built some time between 4000 and 1000 BC. It is visible as a low, sub-circular, mainly turf-covered mound of boulders, measuring about 22m ENE-WSW by 18m transversely and standing up to 1m high. Near the centre of the cairn is a large capstone, measuring 1.75m by 1.3m by 0.15m thick. This covers a hollow, defined along its SE edge by a slab about 1.7m long and 0.15 m thick; below the capstone on the NW is a possible fallen side-slab. A shallow depression occurs about 4m SW of the capstone, with an orthostat visible at its N end, indicating the presence of a second possible cist or chamber. The cairn stands on a rocky knoll at 100m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1933 but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, 42m in diameter, centred on the centre of the cairn. The scheduling includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The excavation of similar cairns elsewhere in Scotland has demonstrated that they were often used to cover and mark human burials. They are normally late Neolithic or Bronze Age in origin, dating most commonly from the late third millennium BC to the early second millennium BC. The cairn at Rhudil Mill has been disturbed in the past, leaving the edges of the monument poorly defined and the cists empty. However, enough of the cairn remains in situ to suggest that important archaeological information is likely to survive below ground.

It is possible that further burials may be present, particularly as archaeologists often find burials away from the centres of cairns. Burial cairns of this date may incorporate or overlie several graves or pits containing cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, pottery and stone tools. These deposits can help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemoration of the dead at specific times in prehistory. They may also help us to understand the changing structure of society in the area. In addition, the cairn is likely to overlie and seal a buried land surface that could provide evidence of the environment when the monument was built. Botanical remains, including pollen or charred plant material, may survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help to build up a picture of climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, cairns are often inter-visible and sometimes seem to be positioned specifically to maximise their visual impact. Many cairns are known in Argyll, with particular clusters in South Kintyre, Mid Argyll, Lorne and in the W and S of Islay. They are usually located on low ground in valleys and on the edges of higher ground, close to important route ways. Argyll cairns are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, demonstrating the re-use and veneration of earlier foci of ritual activity. Clusters of cairns may point to areas of the landscape where power and wealth was concentrated, perhaps generated in part through control of trade and exchange. Cairns have additional importance as they are the most prominent remains of early societies, whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have so far proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record.

The cairn at Rhudil Mill is situated on a terrace of higher ground running along the E side of the valley overlooking the Rhudil Burn. The cairn was built in a prominent position with good views through the valley and would also have been visible from the route ways through the glen. It is inter-visible with a chambered cairn at Baroile, which is situated only 250m to the NE on the same terrace. This area is exceptionally rich in prehistoric monuments, including further cairns and rock art along the sides of the valley. The positioning of this cairn in relation to other nearby monuments of broadly contemporary date, and especially to that of the cairn at Baroile, is likely to be significant and merits future detailed analysis. Further study of the monuments in this prehistoric landscape could enhance our understanding of ritual and funerary site location and practice. It could also provide further insights into the structure and organisation of early prehistoric society and economy.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, particularly the design and construction of burial monuments, the nature of burial practices, and their significance in prehistoric and later society. Buried evidence from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about the communities living here, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is particularly valuable because it lies in a rich archaeological landscape where there is a variety of prehistoric monuments, including rock art and other cairns. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape and the meaning and importance of death and burial in prehistoric life.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as NR89NW27. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is 4058. In the past the site has been identified as a possible chambered cairn, but this now seems unlikely.


Campbell, M and Sandeman, M 1964 'Mid Argyll: an archaeological survey', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 95, 1-125.

Craw, J H 1930 'Excavations at Dunadd and at other sites on the Poltalloch Estates, Argyll', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 64, 139.

Henshall, A S 1972 The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol 2, 89. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

RCAHMS 1988 The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments, vol 6, 71-2. Edinburgh: HMSO Press.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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